By ANN SANNER, Associated Press
MANSFIELD, Ohio (AP) — Outside one of President Barack Obama's campaign events on Wednesday stood the supporters, the gawkers and the jeerers who make up Ohio's swing-state voters.
Buses, trees and heavy-duty vehicles blocked their view of the president, but his words echoed off the downtown buildings near the park where he spoke in Mansfield. Still, it remains to be seen whether his remarks resonated with those nearby.
What some Ohio voters said about the Democratic president's ninth trip of the year to the state:
Kevin Uhde of Mansfield stood near the park to listen to the president's remarks. He said he supports Obama, and plans to vote for him again this fall.
Uhde, 31, provides work training for unemployed people in Richland County, where Mansfield is located. And when it comes to the economic woes he sees in his job, he said he places most of the blame on gridlock in Congress and policies from the state legislature.
Asked whether the president is also responsible, he said: "To a certain extent. ... It's hard to try to figure out what the blame is toward the president."
The answer is clearer to Nita Matern, who stood with a co-worker a few feet away from Uhde.
Matern, a 39-year-old registered Republican, said she's frustrated with how elected officials in Washington are spending taxpayer money.
"They just have an unlimited budget," she said. "Us — we can't do that."
If the economy was improving, Matern said she's not feeling it.
Matern works for a land insurance agency, where she took a 20 percent pay cut last year and saw her work week shrink from five days to four. Her husband, who works for his father in a sheet metal shop, also took a 25 percent pay cut. She said she's recently back to fulltime hours and her husband's hours have also increased.
"I just come to work every day and try to pay off my bills," she said.
Matern said she's not sure if she'll vote this fall because she hasn't been following the campaign.
Is there anything Obama could say to sway her otherwise? "No," she said flatly.
A few blocks away, about a dozen demonstrators gathered on a street corner to protest Obama's visit.
Virginia Brooks, 74, of Ashland, sat in a chair holding a sign with American flags that read, "Fire Obama. Write In: Ron Paul. Take America back."
Brooks, who's retired from her job in a newspaper circulation department, said Paul was the only candidate who stood for the Constitution.
"I'm not a fan of either (candidate) running," she said. "I can't vote for the lesser of two evils. You still get evil."
Keri Hogan took a day off work and drove 25 miles to Obama's event in Mansfield. She missed out on getting a ticket to be inside the park, so she sat on a downtown street corner to listen to his remarks.
Hogan, 59, of Mount Vernon, said she's donated more than $1,000 to the president's campaign and plans to volunteer again for him this fall.
She acknowledged that winning Ohio could be tough for the president.
But can Obama win? "Ohio is a very unpredictable state," she said. "And I'll do my best to see that he does win."
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